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Illustrator / London U.k.
插畫家 / 倫敦，英國
If you ever wondered how would it feel to make a living drawing illustrations for McDonald’s , The New York Times, Google or Pepsi, you are in the right place. This season we meet Dan Woodger, a freelance illustrator and designer from London U.k. killing the scene with his colorful, eye catching characters.
Looking at his portfolio you will quickly realize that Dan has a memorable career with a bright future in the industry and projects coming from every corner, but this wasn´t always like that, just four years ago Dan was in a completely different situation with difficulties to find clients and struggling to continue his career as illustrator. Giving up was not an option for him and after working really hard for a year to produce more content, the miracle happened and Line, the famous messaging app, contacted him to create one thousand emojis. Since then Dan hasn´t stop working and we meet him in Taipei to know more about his work.
R. Hello Dan! How are you, first time in Taipei?
D. Yes! This is my first time in Taipei! I fallen in love with it here it’s such a fun city, I’ve had the best time. We’ve packed in so much since we’ve been here, we visited Elephant Mountain Xiangshan,
Xia-Hai Chenghuang Temple, and the Raohe Night Market. I’ve also tried some very weird food! Some of which has been absolutely delicious, I really enjoyed Hujiao bing and I love bubble tea. However, I have to say, I think Stinky Tofu is a bit of an acquired taste that I’m not quite ready for yet!
R. 哈囉，Dan！ 這是第一次來台北嗎？
R. How many hours do you usually work in an average week?
D. I try to have a structured routine whereby I have set working hours. Normally I like to get to my studio around 7 am and usually finish between 6 pm-7 pm so on average I would say around 11/12 hours a day, I guess that works at around 55-60 hours a week. I try to make sure I set some time aside in the evening and at weekends to do other things outside of illustration and spend time with my girlfriend, friends and family.
However, when freelancing you’re kind of at the beck and call of the client, so it depends on the project I’m working on really. At times I have to work more challenging hours. For instance on the LINE and Samsung projects I was working around 17 hours a day, 7 days a week! It’s part of the job really.
R. Do you prefer to sketch in paper or directly into the computer?
D. I prefer to sketch on paper when possible, then I’ll scan my sketches into the computer to work it up. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit but I always start projects by sketching out my ideas on sheets of basic printer paper. I have done this since I was a kid, I just enjoy working onto loose sheets rather then into a bound sketch book, it just feels more natural and less restrictive to me.
R. How is it to work with big corporations? Is there a lot of restrictions to your work?
D. Working with big corporations is fun & it’s exciting, there a few better ways in which to showcase your work in my opinion. Companies like McDonald’s and Samsung are household names. To be able share the space and limelight they occupy can only be a good thing right? What better way to get your work seen by people?
Of course there can be restrictions, it depends on each client. I believe the most successful collaborations come when the client and the advertising agency put trust in you. McDonald’s and Samsung are both perfect recent examples of this. They allowed me to be creative, use my own ideas and even my own colours. In doing so I feel like we created something very special.
R. 和大公司合作的感覺如何？ 工作上對你來說會有很多約束嗎？
R. What are your inspirations?
D. My inspirations come from the things I loved growing up. Cartoons like The Simpsons, Rugrats, Hey Arnold, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles etc.
Also, movies & video games from the late 80’s and early 90’s Jurassic Park, Jumanji, Terminator, The Neverending Story, Sonic The Hedgehog, Super Mario. Weirdly, I also found huge inspiration growing up playing GTA Vice City - I should clarify, this was not because of all the car theft and violence! I adored the storyline and era it was set in. This game came out around 2003, I was only about 13/14 years old so I had no idea that GTA Vice City was a Miami Vice / Scarface parody, but it opened my eyes to so much pop culture & aesthetics from 1980’s Miami / California that I have since fallen in love with. Palm trees, sunsets, pastel colours, big sunglasses. You’ll see tonnes of this sort of thing in my work.
R. One thing you hate to draw?
D. Horses. Hate hate hate drawing horses. I don't understand they’re bodies. Whenever I draw them from memory they end up looking like big muscly dogs.
R. What would you recommend to somebody trying to be a professional illustrator?
D. Work hard, be yourself, be reliable, be nice.
Work hard - I always say in talks and speaking events that I think I’m about 20% talented and 80% hard working. I know far far more talented illustrators than me but what I lack in natural talent I make up for in work ethic. That’s why I get up so early, It’s so I can go in and work on personal projects for a couple of hours before starting on client projects.
Be yourself - There are so many artist and illustrators in the world, scrolling through Instagram and seeing all the utterly brilliant work of other people, it can feel overwhelming at times,. Best thing you can do is put the phone down, close your internet browser and pick up your pencil. Shut out other peoples work for a little while and focus on your own ideas and work hard at it.
Be reliable - So important. Again, there are much better illustrators than me, but what I have tried to prove to clients over the years is that I am reliable. So I make sure I always meet deadlines. This reliability and trust can often lead to the client / art director coming back to work with me again.
Be nice - Just be nice to people, it goes a long way. Try and make an effort to reply to all emails and social media comments if you can - I know it’s not always possible, and I’m certainly not perfect, but just try to make the effort with people, it’s nice to be nice.
If you want to know more about Dan Woodger check his website!
All the pictures and words in this article belongs to River and Dan Woodger and have copyright.
If you would like to use it please contact us first, We like to share.
8 January 2017
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